What went wrong with my computer, its broken now

Yesterday at 7pm my computer worked fine. When i went in at 9pm it was really hot and it was shut off. It wouldn’t power on. I took the side of the case off and placed a fan next to it and after 30 minutes when the computer was cold it still wouldn’t power on.

I have/had an AMD Athlon (thunderbird i think) 1.2Ghz processor, and i think normal operating temps were around 190F even with the heatsink working. So maybe over the two years i had that processor it finally gave up or something. Seeing how i know what 190F feels like (as that is about normal temp) the case was alot hotter last night, i could feel the heat from about 5 feet away. it also had a smell kind of like melted plastic. So i can only guess that it may’ve been 250F+ in there, just from the way it felt.

Does anyone have any idea what went wrong? What parts do i need to buy? Did the CPU go out, the motherboard, the power supply, all or what?

Best guess is either one of the main fans failed or was so plugged with dust that the airflow was greatly reduced. Either way, it sounds like the power supply crapped out. They’re relatively inexpensive, so replacing that is about the first thing I’d do. First, check all the connections inside first. Actually pull each and every one off and reseat it, one at a time; and do the same with all the RAM sticks and expansion cards, too. If you’re lucky, replacing the power supply will fix things. If you’re not lucky, you may have fried the processor, the mainboard or both. Look carefully for signs of scorching or overheating on the mainboard. The PS is the cheaper of the three possibilities, so if you find no apparent damage to the board, try that first. Good luck!

Well, as QED said it might be the PS, if your lucky, or the CPU and/or MOBO. If you say it won’t power on at all, then it’s probably the PS. Does anything light up or turn on even a little when you flick the switch? If so, then the PS is probably fine and it’s most likely the CPU. As QED said, one of more of your fans failed. A broken CPU heatsink fan can make a CPU overheat to the point of death in mere seconds.

And your CPU runs at 190 F! Holy crap! That’s almost 90 C! I consider my Athlon XP 1800 to be a wee on the hot side, and it doesn’t even break 50 C! Yowza. If you really do think that it got to 250 F, then I’d say your CPU is dead.

Yeah i know. I didn’t know how to get the temp down aside from taking the side of the case off and having a fan point at the computer 24/7. When i did that it went down to 150F or so. What do you recommend for my next setup to keep the temp low? are there really effective heatsinks i can use? I think i was using a generic $2 heatsink on my first setup.

Nothing at all powers up. I turn the switch on the back off and on, unplug it, etc. and nothing powers up. I figured if it was the CPU then it would at least power up but it woudln’t work.

I hope its just the powercase but that doesn’t explain why it was so hot or why it smelled faintly of melting plastic. I thought 95C was the max for an AMD thunderbird. Besides i ran at that temp (90C) for almost 2 years and didn’t have many/any problems.

Do you think the motherboard is ok? Should i get a new motherboard/CPU combo or just a new CPU? Thats assuming i get a new power supply first and that doesn’t fix anything. A 1.2Ghz 266 AMD CPU is $45 on pricewatch but a 2.2Ghz AMD XP & motherboard is only $82 so i’ll probably get a motherboard/CPU combo instead of another 1.2Ghz thunderbird.

I think it may’ve been the fan. The back of the fan has dust bunnies on it, maybe it got clogged, the CPU went to 260F and fried. I don’t know. If that were true then i dont get why the thing won’t even power on. No lights come on anywhere when i plug it in and turn it on.

Max temps are generally stated for instantaneous cases. In other words, if you ran it above 95 C it probably wouldn’t last more than an hour. Just being under this spec doesn’t mean it’s safe for the processor though.

Long term reliability uses a whole different set of numbers. The quick and dirty rule us engineers use is that every 10 deg C above room temp cuts the expected life of the device in half (which is notoriously unreliable at either end of the scale, but in the middle is pretty accurate). Desktop PCs are designed for about an 8 to 10 year life span running at about 45 deg C max. If we figure 10 years at 50 deg C, and start dividing by 2 for every 10 deg C above this, you end up with 5 years at 60 deg C, 2.5 years at 70 deg C, 1.25 years at 80 deg C, and 0.625 years at 90 deg C. So, judging from how innacurate this quick and dirty rule is, I’d expect it to last between a few months to maybe a year at 90 deg C. Two years isn’t unreasonable, but it’s probably on the high side for how long something would be expected to last at that temp. I think you got lucky that it lasted as long as it did.

If you really want the thing to last, keep it under 45 deg C. Some of the big name computer guys will run theirs at up to 50 or 55 (especially the cheaper PCs), and they are counting on the fact that you’ll probably upgrade before the long term reliability numbers come into play.

Sure it does. There’s lots of stuff inside a power supply that can melt, burn or what have you when the unit is subject to extreme temps.

Well, just because nothing turns on, doesn’t mean that it HAS to be the power supply. Depeding on how the MOBO is configured, it might be set to do nothing if it doesn’t detect a CPU, which is wouldn’t be if it were fried. If you can borrow a PSU from someone (as long as it’s a PC made in the last eight years or so it will fit) and test out your system, that would be great cause then you wouldn’t have to waste money on a PSU if yours is fine.

And as far as heatsinks are concerend, for God’s sake don’t ever buy a cheapo heatsink! NEVER! That doesn’t mean you have to buy the top of the line, $200 water-cooled system, but plan to spend at least $30, if not $40 for a decent midrange one. Try to get oen with at least a copper core, if not all copper. The big key after that is the cfm rating. Try to go for something with a cfm in the 20’s.

What i’m going to do is have my brother look at it this weekend, he knows about about computers. Or a friend i have nearby, he can look at it too. First thing i’ll do though is get a new power supply and heatsink and have him put them on. If that doesn’t work i’ll get a new motherboard/CPU to go along with the power supply (assuming an Athlon XP 2.0-2.2Ghz uses a 350W PS). However i don’t know much about PS.

this is the info I got off my current power supply

A1 electronics inc
Model no:JX-9810UK

What does the ATX stand for? I assume it has to be a 350W power supply though. Does an Athlon XP use 350W? Is an athlon XP a good idea or should i try a pentium? Getting the highest end performance PC isn’t important to me, i function fine on 1.2Ghz but since a 2.5 Ghz CPU/motherboard is $50 more than another 1.2Ghz Athlon CPU i may get that if my old CPU is gone. The 1.8 Ghz Duron and 2.2 Celeron motherboard/CPU combos are about the same price as a 2600 XP. I’d probably narrow it down to a 2600 XP or 2.4Ghz Celeron.

Also i’m looking at pricewatch and i dont know what kind of fan i should get. Can anyone recommend some good (around $30) heatsink companies or types? What about Vantec and Thermalright? They make copper heatsinks starting around $20 on pricewatch. I also don’t know much about heatsink compatibility. Will a heatsink work on various Pentium and AMD CPUs or are they designed for a specific CPU or company?

There was alot of dust on the fan(s) of the power supply so that could’ve been a major problem.

ATX is the case form factor it’s designed for. You want to be sure the replacement is of the same type, or it may not physically fit, or the power connectors won’t mate with the mainboard or both. If the original power supply is 350 W (which it is, according the info you posted), then you’ll want to replace it with one with at least that capacity. You could go higher with no problems, but installing a smaller one can cause all sorts of trouble you don’t need. If you think you may upgrade to a faster processor and newer mainboard in the near future, you may as well go ahead and get a 400-450 W unit now, if you can afford it, just so you have the extra capacity you may need later.

As for heatsinks, you’ll need to match it to the socket/slot type of your processor. If you’re unsure of it, post your mainboard model number and someone here can look it up for you. It never hurts to get the largest heatsink/fan combo you can find, and that will physically fit in your PC–when it comes to processors, there’s no such thing as excessive cooling capacity. Be sure to pick up a small tube of heatsink compound as well, and apply an even, not-too-thick layer on the back of the heatsink before installing it on the processor. Make sure the retaining clip(s) are fastened tight, and be sure the heatsink fan runs when you power up the PC.